Fire in vacant home in Harrisburg concerning neighbors

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Police officers and firefighters in Harrisburg are trying to determine what sparked fires at two separate vacant houses, one on Chestnut Street, the other on Swatara Street.

The fire on the 1200 block of Chestnut Street destroyed a vacant home and now has the community concerned.

Harrisburg Fire Chief Brian Enterline said it could be a problem where people who are homeless are trying to escape from the weather.

"Let's face it, it got pretty cold out the last couple of nights. And when you're living on the street and need somewhere to go, you're going to find one of these vacant homes and take refuge in it," Enterline said.

Fire officials said there's only so much they can do.

"We try to seal them up the best we can, the problem is if you want to get into the building, you're going to get in to the building. Let's face it. Short of putting steel around these things, people are still going to get inside of them," he said.

But neighbors think the problem could be drug related. Even though the house was condemned, they said it didn't stop people from going in and out.

Mark Baker, a neighbor, said, "We have a lot of drug addicts in the neighborhood. They come in the house, they try to post up in here and do what they gotta do, whatever the case might be. This was deliberately set."

Baker said this isn't the first vacant house on Chestnut Street that has been ruined by a fire.

"Every house that's abandoned needs to be boarded up completely," Baker said.

And he said this could happen again, but with more dire consequences.

"When it's a real fire with people that need help, the firemen are going to be over here fighting something that no one lives in, that's abandoned. And then across town, somebody that needs help. They aren't going to get the help," he said.

Fire officials said if you see someone going into a condemned, home, call 311 or the Codes Bureau.